Beit Immanuel Jewish Festival

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Is the Future of Messianics Jewish?

It was only a short while ago that Jews around the world began discovering that Jesus is our Messiah. Even though our families, friends, synagogue and nation joined forces to keep Jesus and Messianic Jews out of Israel, we were determined to live as Jews who believe in Jesus. We formed congregations, uncovered the Jewish roots of the gospel and  integrated  our Jewish traditions into New Testament worship, prayers and teachings . We labored diligently these five decades to show our people that a Jew can believe in Jesus, that a Jew who believes is Jew ish We challenged traditional religious thinking  refusing to call our selves Christians and coined a new Hebrew term "Messianic Jews , " who now number in the tens of thousands in Israel (hundreds of thousands around the world).
But today, growing numbers of young followers of Jesus in Israel do not carry the same passion to preserve our Jewish heritage. On internet forums, at conferences, in youth magazines and in private conversations, many young Messianic Jews wonder out loud why we need any Jewish expression of our Jesus faith at all. This year, large numbers of Messianic Jewish youth chose not to fast on Yom Kippur, Judaism's holiest Day of Atonement. "Why should I fast on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), Jesus paid for my sins. Jesus set me free!" they told me. I tell them that same freedom allows them the ability to honor our heritage and fast along with our nation. Others argue that the Jewish Rosh Hashanna, our New Year fall festival, is actually the Day of Trumpets in the Bible. Agreed, but then they do nothing to celebrate with Israel this joyful tradition going back thousands of years for fear of what they perceive to an archaic, unbiblical Jewish tradition.

This was startling because for Messianic Jews over the past 40 years, fasting on Yom Kippur and celebrating the Jewish feasts was a given, one of the essential ways we joined our New Testament faith with the beauty and spiritual richness of our Jewish heritage. It was a way for us to r ebuild broken ties with family, synagogue and the Jewish people by connecting our faith in Jesus to our heritage, to our people. That many young Israeli believers in Jesus do not find any meaningful connection to Jewish tradition is a curious and disturbing development for the future of our movement.
Here are my thoughts on why some Messianics avoid Jewish tradition.
Western Christianity

Many of the  church organizations working supporting Messianic Jews in Israel have very little understanding or  appreciation of Jewish culture or tradition . Most Christians have never had  meaningful experience s  with Jews, J udaism or synagogue life. There can be a  paranoid, outdated concern with "Judiazing" and what to them are negative influences of Jewish tradition and learning. When I came to faith in Jesus back in the 1970's, not a few Christian t eachers tried to teach us to make a break with anything Jewish .
Y oung Messianics are also attracted by flashy evangelical worship styles and the western Christian culture that it often accompanies which prevents them from experiencing the riches of a more local, Jewish style of worship and prayer.  Increasingly, young Messianics come to believe that it i s necessary to make a clean break with Jewish traditions for fear of coming under rabbinic authority or "works of the law." A recent survey among young Israeli believers found that many now prefer to call themselves simply Messianic, not Messianic Jews.
Family and Faith Communities

A recent Pew survey found that barely 40 percent of Jewish marriages in the US are with a Jewish spouse. Close to 60 percent married non-Jews.

Mixed marriages in Israel are not nearly as high, but the large number of marriages between Messianic Jews and Gentiles   has  present ed a unique challenge to our c ommunity especially when the children of a Gentile wife are not considered Jewish.  Intermarriage among  Jewish believers in Israel is a wonderful expression of unity and reconciliation i n Jesus. However,  often little thought is given to the effect this has on the Jewish identity of the next generation. What will the future of the Messianic community look like if our children are not raised as Jew s ?
If our families do not celebrate the beauty of Jewish tradition together with their faith in Jesus at home, our children will never grasp the unique destiny God has for Jews who believe in Jesus, and  it is becoming increasingly  likely that later generations may not identify as Jews in any way. If our local congregations do not encourage Jewish identity as part of our Messianic faith, we will easily  assimilat e  become  a foreign, unrecognizable witness to Israel of her precious Messiah.
Here's how you can help

Our goal is to help show the people of Israel that Yeshua is their Messiah, the Jewish Messiah who loves them more than they can ever imagine and laid down his life for their sins. We are a family-oriented ministry demonstrating the blessings of our rich heritage as the people of Israel together with our New Covenant commitment to the Messiah Yeshua and the Spirit-led life.